My son, who is now 15, had an imaginary friend. His name was “Train Conductor” and this friend went everywhere with us for about 6 months. I didn’t think it was odd. In fact, I thought it was adorable. My son had an amazing imagination and his love for trains was obvious.
I was reading articles on the web, as I usually do, to get some inspiration for my next article. I came across a story that brought great concern to me. It’s about a woman’s 5-year-old niece who has an imaginary friend who is telling her to jump off of a cliff. I kid you not!
The aunt has been taking care of the young girl since her father died and now her mother is sick with cancer. Digitgiggy writes at reddit [emphasis added]:
I have a niece I’m taking care of while her mother is in the hospital. Her father died before she was born and her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She’s been having an imaginary friends which is ok to me. But, when they tell her to finish her dinner quickly to play and ask her to stay up all night, is a bit making worry a little. She started crying when they were playing cause they said they will not be here anymore when she turns 6. So a week before her birthday, her “friends” brought her up near this cliff we live near and told her hey can be together. She just has to jump and she refused to. She did say her friends are four boys, about 7 and were wearing baseball uniforms except for one which was named Dallas. He wore regular clothes. All the while I was making dinner and noticed her gone, I was panicking and searching everywhere for her and I found her her. She was sitting on the edge of the cliff, she only said “I don’t wanna jump. It’s gonna hurt bad really. I get to see mommy if I do? But what about aunt? Can she go?” This was when I stepped in and picked her then said we have to go eat dinner and she was waved bye to the cliff. Is that normal? It’s weird to have imaginary friends on a bad side. I didn’t have imaginary friends and never watched a child with friends. I thought my niece having an imaginary friend is normal for kids that had suffered a loss in their life so I didn’t think of anything of it. Can I do anything? The child is obviously grieving in an unhealthy way and has suicidal tenancies, but isn’t sure how to express her feelings since she is only 5. Children’s stress manifests in different ways. Sometimes it’s in the form of anxiety and behavioral problems or lack of interest in everyday things signaling depression. Or it could present itself in the form of imaginary friends who are encouraging the child to kill themselves like in this situation.
One user’s advice to the aunt was, “Therapy. Sounds like she’s dealing with a lot of stress due to her mom’s illness.”
Digitgiggy’s reply was, “I don’t have the funds to do so, sadly. I’m barely scraping by with the bills and food. She’s only 5. She can’t be that aware of what’s happening. She doesn’t know about death or what cancer is.”
There are crisis centers in every city that will take low-income patients, especially in a case like this.
Please, for the love of God, Digitgiggy, get this child to a crisis center so she can get the proper help she so desperately needs before it’s too late.